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East Longmeadow honors fallen soldiers with Memorial Day ceremony

Date: 6/7/2010

June 7, 2010.

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

EAST LONGMEADOW -- The goal of Memorial Day is to remember those who lost their lives while serving their country. Many local towns hosted Memorial Day ceremonies honoring the fallen, including East Longmeadow.

The ceremonies began with a small parade that stepped off in the high school parking lot which proceeded to the flag pole in front of the school. The posting of the colors was done by Commander of American Legion Post 293 Brian Tidlund and Commander of the Italian American Post 64 Carmine DeFranco.

The recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the laying of wreaths followed the posting of the colors, along with military honors conducted by Senior Vice Commander Kevin McMaster, volleys from a firing squad and the playing of echo Taps to honor those who lost their lives while performing their patriotic duty.

Following the outdoor ceremony, those gathered went into the high school auditorium for a somber service.

"As they loved us, so must we love them," DeFranco said of those who served from East Longmeadow.

Tidlund presented a proclamation from Gov. Deval Patrick; Father Peter Swarr of St. Mark's Church delivered the invocation; and three high school students took part in the ceremony as well. Kate Elmendorf sang the National Anthem, Joseph Cabrera recited "General Logan's Orders" and Sarah Venn recited "In Flanders Field" by John McCrae.

Speakers at the event included local and state dignitaries. Paul Federici, chair of the Board of Selectmen, noted that his father served in World War II.

"To serve your country is a truly brave and selfless act," he said. "We should always honor the men and women of our armed services."

State Sen. Gale Candaras spoke of the recent loss of Sgt. Joshua Desforges of Ludlow in combat as well as the loss of Sgt. Mark Ecker II, who served several tours overseas and who passed away in an auto accident last summer. "He gave up his forever ... so that we here can have this beautiful day," she said of Desforges. "What's important about days like these is that our young people see what sacrifice and resilience mean," she added.

State Rep. Angelo Puppolo commented on his "indescribable admiration for the men and women" who have and are serving and noted that the state is trying to make sure it's doing all it can to support veterans when they return home.

"Every person who gave their life gave something unique . . . something special," State Rep. Brian Ashe stated.

Selectman Jack Villamaino read the list of the 17 East Longmeadow natives who lost their lives while serving as young students laid red roses in their honor. The East Longmeadow High School Marching Band also played two patriotic selections at the ceremony.

In addition to the activities on May 31, the East Longmeadow High School baseball team also helped Veterans Grave Officer Dan Kneeland decorate the graves of veterans with new American flags.

To see a collection of photos from the event, visit